The Minnesota Timberwolves capitalized on a soft spot in their schedule to extend their winning streak to six games–the first time that they have accrued this many consecutive victories since 2004.

In the 18 years between their two most recent six-game win streaks, Minnesota has wandered aimlessly around the NBA Draft lottery for almost every year except for the aberration in 2018 where they made a brief first round appearance.

They have seemed hopeless at times through the years, but this season, they have slowly begun to make progress towards a return to respectability and the playoffs. They changed the sentiment on their team so much that it is reasonable to consider that this new breed of Timberwolves can eventually reach the heights achieved by that 2004 team that made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals.

While a postseason run that deep is far-fetched this year given the current landscape in the West, their core is much younger than their 2004 predecessors were at the time and they still have a lot of room to grow together.

After winning only 23 games last year, Minnesota is now a season-high nine games over .500 with a 38-29 record that is good for seventh place in the Western Conference. Furthermore, they are only two-and-a-half games behind the Denver Nuggets for sixth place and the last guaranteed playoff berth with 15 contests still left on their regular season calendar.

The maturity of Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, and Anthony Edwards and their ability to buy in to what head coach Chris Finch has preached has been a major driver of their success this season.


This has been most evident in Towns, who was named to his third NBA All-Star team this year. Now in his seventh campaign, his statistics are not far off from his gaudy career averages, though a biggest difference for him this year has been seen in his growth as a leader. He has grown more vocal, especially on defense, and his on-court body language has vastly improved from his earlier days when he would seemingly throw a fit whenever things were not going his way.

Russell has also made similar strides, but his most noticeable and impactful improvement has been to his game. He has made it known that he is trying to pattern himself after the cerebral 12-time NBA All-Star Chris Paul and his discipleship has begun to bear fruit on the court this season.

Compared with his maverick style of play when he first broke into the league, the 26-year-old operates at a much more deliberate pace these days. When integrated with his tantalizing offensive skill set, his newfound veteran poise makes him an even more dangerous player on offense. He is averaging 3.8 free throw attempts this season–slightly above his 3.1 career average–and, more importantly, is shooting a career-best 82.4% from the line as he continues to grow into a winning point guard.

Towns and Russell, the first two picks of the 2015 NBA Draft, are already at that point in their careers where they are known commodities. They are playing close to their ceiling as basketball players and all that they need is continued refinement both on and off the court–something that they have begun to address this year.

These two can still make incremental improvements, although it is the 20-year-old Anthony Edwards who holds the biggest potential for growth on the Timberwolves. He may very well determine whether they can equal or even surpass the 2004 team down the line.

Last year’s first overall pick has top tier physical tools–from his advanced physique to the otherworldly leaping ability that he has weaponized–that have helped him become the type of dynamic wing scorer that can carry an NBA team. If Edwards can become one of the premier offensive weapons in the league, the goal of at least one trip to the Western Conference Finals goes from being just a daydream to an inevitability.

Having three players of this caliber is a nightmare for opposing defenses and if they can further develop their chemistry, this Minnesota group will become virtually unstoppable on offense. They flashed a glimpse of their potential in the third quarter of their most recent win, a 132-102 drubbing of the Oklahoma City Thunder, when all three of them seamlessly converged for an easy basket.


Russell brought down the ball and zipped a no-look pass to Towns in the post. Towns quickly turned to face Edwards on the baseline and immediately handed the ball off to him. The Thunder defense was now scrambling and could barely cover Edwards as he attacked the rim for an easy lay-up.

The fact that they made this play look this easy and seamless is a testament to their growth as a group. In a situation such as this where milliseconds matter, their quick decision making and unselfishness made an otherwise intricate scheme look much simpler than it actually is.

These three are barely scratching the surface of what they can do, both individually and collectively. They are still far from their respective primes and can potentially play several more years together. The only hindrances in a situation like this are their respective egoes and long term health. These are the typical culprits of a great team’s undoing and while they cannot control the latter, they have full control over the former.

Ego has been the downfall of this franchise over the past two decades and it remains to be seen if it will rear its ugly head once more. Latrell Sprewell preempted the break-up of their 2004 team due to his belief that the three-year, $21 million contract offered to him was not enough to “feed his family.” In the following years, the frustrating era that ensued was the product of a front office that believed it was smarter than the rest, but was instead among the worst in the league. Towns was partly to blame as well for the more recent blow-up with Jimmy Butler, but he has clearly learned from it and has become a much better teammate.

While they are still in their honeymoon phase at the moment, it will be interesting to see whether these Timberwolves can pull it all together and fulfill their potential as a group. This year has been quite promising and is still far from over, but only time will tell whether their franchise’s vicious cycle of self destruction will kick in or if they can finally relive the glory days that have been so elusive to Minnesota for almost two decades.